• Historic Shot of Canal Boat on the Canal

    Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

    National Historical Park DC,MD,WV

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  • NEW Overnight parking system

    Before parking a vehicle overnight in any Canal Parking area, visitors must register their vehicle through the new online registration system. Print your reciept and place on your dashboard. If unable to print, please visit the nearest visitor center. More »

  • Water Pump Handles Temporarily Removed

    Water pump handles at Bald Eagle Island, Jordan Junction and Big Woods Hiker Biker Campsites have been removed due to bad water samples. Handles will be reinstalled when good water samples are received.

  • Boat Tours at Great Falls

    Due to low water levels in the Great Falls area, call the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center (301-767-3714) in advance of your trip to confirm the mule-drawn boat tour schedule.

  • Parking Lot Closure

    CSX is now beginning a phase of their bridge project that requires the closure of the Lock 74 parking lot for approximatly 18 months. Access to visitor parking near Lock 75 is now re-opened with a gravel parking lot at the site.

Great Falls Canal Boat Rides

Please note the 2014 schedule is subject to change. We will attempt to keep this webpage as up-to-date as possible.

 
Charles F. Mercer replica packet boat in Lock 20

Great Falls Mule Drawn Boat Rides

Take a trip back in time to the 1870's! Ride along the historic C&O Canal in a boat pulled by mules. Experience rising 8 feet in a lock. Hear park rangers in period clothing describe what life was like for the families that lived and worked on the canal. Enjoy life at a slower pace.

$8.00 for adults (ages 16-61), $6.00 for seniors (ages 62 +), and $5.00 for children (ages 4-15). Children aged three and under ride free.

Ten or more people are required to make advance reservations on either boat. Otherwise, seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Charles F. Mercer boat capacity is 65 people. The boat programs last approximately one hour.

Public Boat Tours - September & October 2014

Saturday & Sunday - 11:00am, 1:30pm, 3:00pm

Please call ahead as special circumstances may affect this schedule.

To Reserve Tickets for a group of 10 or more

Please call one of the following numbers:

During Visitor Center operating hours (Wednesday through Friday, 9:00AM to 4:30PM) one of our rangers will be happy to assist you with making a reservation on the Charles F. Mercer canal boat at Great Falls. The Visitor Center desk can be reached at 301-767-3714.

After Visitor Center operating hours, you can leave a message on our Boat Reservation Line 301-714-2217. You will be contacted by a ranger to confirm the details of your reservation. Please make sure you speak with a ranger before the day of your requested boat tour.

Please note, on Mondays and Tuesdays no confirmations are made. The Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center is closed on Monday and Tuesday. You will be contacted during Visitor Center operating hours.

Thank you!

Did You Know?

Photo of park rangers interpreting building the canal.

Canal historians estimate approximately 35,000 laborers helped dig the canal as well as build aqueducts, culverts, locks, lock houses, etc. It took 22 years to build the canal from Georgetown, DC to Cumberland, MD. Much of the workforce were immigrants from Ireland and western Europe. More...